I finally went to see The Martian movie last night. This is something I’ve been eagerly awaiting since discovering a movie was in the works after reading Andy Weir’s wonderful book. My expectations were muted because, let’s face it, rarely do movie adaptions do their source material justice, never mind surpass them. I can think of only one such instance that I’ve personally seen and that is One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, a masterpiece that managed to honour the book while simultaneously providing the movie goer with a unique and worthy experience unto itself.
As is more often the case, the movie will suck the soul from a book and litter the screen with a dried husk of fecal matter that stinks to the eyes. Or, if we’re lucky, the movie is marginally tolerable; not ruining the book but not being faithful or inspiring either. Of the three options presented here, Ridley Scott’s The Martian is certainly the latter and in this context that’s actually a relief.
I enjoyed watching this movie. It was entertaining and visually appealing but it never really enthralled me like the book did. The jokes were a little stale and the nerdy science stuff, which made the book so fantastic, was by and large wiped clean from the script. The plot remained mostly intact; they just decided to eradicate the detailed science that made the book so interesting in the first place. I’ll never understand why Hollywood does this kind of thing. The science was the very thing that made the book a hit so obviously some genius decided that needed to be wiped from the script because the general viewing audience is too stupid to take a little meat with their blockbuster potatoes.
So the hard science was ditched and some of the on-surface drama was exchanged for additional in-space drama. I guess making this more like Gravity was too enticing. It’s disappointing, sure, but it didn’t anger me. Enough of the heart of the book remained to make this a tolerable adaptation. And, hey, the one complaint I did have about the book was that it made Mark Whatney far too mentally stable in spite of his situation. The guy was abandoned on Mars, after all, and he didn’t have the slightest freakout whatsoever in the book. I felt this was a failing and wouldn’t you know it, they addressed this a bit in the movie. He actually showed some emotion, some mental letdown. Not as much as I’d expect being ABANDONED ON MARS, but still, a little is better than nothing so I give the movie kudos for that.
On the other hand, when is Hollywood going to stop sending astronauts with kids on multi-year missions? Seriously, who in their right mind would do that? Leaving four single-digit-aged kids behind while you go on a 4 year mission to Mars does not make you a hero, it makes you an asshole. There is no way NASA would actually do such a thing. So please, Hollywood, stop with the forced family drama.
Anyway, I’m glad I watched it at the cheap theatre for $5 rather than the fancy theatre for $14 or more. Do I recommend this movie? Sure, why not. I’ll give it 3 baby dill pickles out of 5. It’s not going to disappoint you and the mindless blockbuster crowd will get a kick out of it. I still much prefer the book to the movie. I’m happy it wasn’t a butcher job but I wish it could have been another cuckoo’s nest. Now, go read the damn book!